New Employment Laws

As your go-to HR experts, we wanted to give you a heads-up about the Government’s upcoming policy changes and new laws surrounding employment.

Dubbed the ‘Good Work Plan’ and due to take effect in April 2020, the changes provide new protections for employees and workers alike. Whilst the changes at first glance might seem complicated, the crux of the reform is simple: to ensure workers can access fair and decent work, that both employers and workers have the clarity they need to understand their employment relationships, and that the enforcement system is fair and fit for purpose.

So, rather than leave you to decipher what it actually means for you, the employer, we thought we’d give you a bite-sized rundown of the key points.

Clearer employment status

New legislation will clarify the test for employment status that reflects modern working practices. It will also seek to align how the law deals with status for tax purposes with the status for employment rights purposes. Additionally, individuals and employers will have access to an online tool that determines employment status in the majority of cases.

Extension of the right to written particulars to all workers

All workers will be entitled to receive a contract of employment setting out the key terms of their employment from day one. There will also be new requirements for additional mandatory information provided in the written particulars.

Extension of the right to a payslip

All workers, including casual and zero-hour workers, will have the right to a payslip. For employees/workers who work variable hours, their payslip must detail the number of hours they are being paid for.

Right for all workers to request a ‘more stable’ contract

After 26 week’s service, all workers, not just zero-hour and agency workers, will have the right to request a more predictable and stable contract.

Making it easier to show continuity of service

To give atypical workers a ‘continuity of service’ and access to key rights, the qualifying ‘break in service’ period will be extended from one week to four weeks.

Holiday rights and working time for seasonal, casual and zero hours workers

The holiday pay reference period will increase from 12 weeks to 52 weeks.

Protections for agency workers

Agency workers will have the right to be provided with a ‘Key Facts Page’, to include information on the type of contract, their rate of pay, who is responsible for paying it and any deductions or fees that will be taken.

Enforcement of tribunal awards and increasing tribunal fines for employers

The Government will: introduce a new ‘naming and shaming’ scheme for employers who fail to pay tribunal awards and make it easier for successful claimants to enforce payment; increase the maximum penalty from £5,000 to £20,000 for ‘aggravated’ breaches of employment rights; and require tribunals to consider stronger punishments for employers that ignore previous tribunal judgments against them.

In addition to the above…

  • It appears that the re-introduction of tribunal fees looks increasingly likely given that the Good Work Plan statement to Parliament indicated it was “under consideration” by the Government.
  • Following a consultation in 2016 employers will be banned from taking “administrative fees” or other deductions from staff tips with effect from April 2020.
  • The threshold required for a request to set up information and consultation arrangements will be lowered from 10% to 2% of employees, subject to the existing minimum of 15 employees. This will apply from April 2020.
  • Enforcement of vulnerable workers’ (i.e. casual workers, agency workers) rights to holiday pay, sick pay and the NMW and wider review of statutory sick pay.

There are, of course, many nuances to the reform, and even seasoned professionals will initially find it hard to decode the details. Indeed, we’ve had to tackle it head-on in order to fully understand the ins and outs. So don’t panic if you feel in the dark – more guidance will come out nearer the time, and we are here to support and advise you through the it all.

The important thing is that you’re aware it’s happening, and that you start to prepare yourself for the changes. Call us and we’ll help you understand how the Good Work Plan will affect your business specifically, and what exactly you need to do about it.

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